Cleveland Heights first to vote on domestic partner registry

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com July 08 2003 11:00 PM ET

Backers of a domestic-partner registry in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, on Monday received certification of
their petition to put legal recognition for unmarried couples on the November ballot, the first time in the nation that voters will decide on such an issue. The registry would give legal recognition to both gay and straight unmarried partners, who could use the document in attempts to share employment benefits or inherit property. However, the registry would not be binding on courts, governments, hospitals, or private companies. The city council must approve the petition before it goes on the ballot, clerk Tom Malone said. "We anticipate council will want to send the issue to the voters and let them decide," said David Caldwell, a spokesman for Heights Families for Equality, the group that circulated petitions. City councilman Jimmie Hicks Jr. has said he will campaign heavily against the registry.

Although registries have been created by municipal councils or state legislatures across the country, Cleveland Heights would be the first to create one through a popular vote, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Heights Families for Equality submitted 5,746 signatures, far more than the 3,750 required to get the measure on the November 4 ballot. Caldwell said about 50 members of the group talked with more than 7,000 people in the city of 50,000.